House of Cards S4:E1 Chapter 40 Recap

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Hello, I'm TalksTooMuch (but you can call me TTM) and I will be recapping House of Cards season 4 for your reading entertainment.  I’ve mostly been steeped in excellent British dramas lately (Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley, River, Doctor Foster, Spotless, too many to name all) so you must excuse me if I throw in the occasional wanker or sommat here and there. Rolling S4:E1 after the break!

We’re in jail with Lucas (Sebastian Arcelus), who’s using his writing degree to get his cellie off, aww, who says those Liberal Arts majors can’t be useful in the real world? Marketable skill right there!

Side note: none of us could believe pathetic old Lucas made it through last season. Maybe because Francis has just that much more scrutiny on him these days, when does a President get to go lurk at a train station anymore? It’s the loss of privacy and free time that has to get to you.

Speaking of Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), he’s practicing his latest speech when Stampy (Michael Kelly) comes in; he can’t get Claire (Robin Wright) on the phone.

Small aside: Over hiatus, it appears Frank Underwood went from a fcukmonster of a certain age (he does evilly sexy so.very.well, even if he doesn’t sell hetero for shite) to somebody’s uncle what plays golf every other day and uses coded euphemisms for racial slurs.

Francis is almost frantic; he’s nervous about the speech he has to give, especially without Claire by his side and they didn’t include the DAMN PHONETICS!!

ANOTHER small note: the fact that they’re trying to sell Claire Underwood as the person who humanizes poor, beleaguered Frank is laughable. That woman makes ice shiver.

That speech goes fairly well for our Francis, but the next written speech has him mentioning Claire, so that pisses him off. How on EARTH is a sitting President of the United States of America doing speech prep all alone without one staff member around him? He could throw someone in front of a train and everything! He does fairly well there in New Hampshire, but it sounds like Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) whom I call Martha, has 10 points on him.

Claire arrives at the family homestead, most of it still covered with dropcloths in good Southern tradition, so where can her mother be? Upstairs, grey-haired Jonas brother Michael (Aaron Marcus) tells her.

Elizabeth Hale (Ellen Burstyn) is sitting and waiting at the end of the bed, all in white, listening to Claire inquire about her room. She looks distraught and angry, yet regal, all at the same time.

Frank’s working the Texas crowd hard, but his manner sucks, screwing up a little girl’s name and talking over his shoulder at the reporters hounding him as to why Claire isn’t in attendance.

Stampy’s trying to work with Seth (Derek Cecil), who doesn’t know what the hell’s going on; how can he do damage control if he doesn’t know what the damage is?

Heather and her team are trying to figure out what’s up with the No-Claire Strategy, she sics Cynthia (Eisa Davis) on it.

Lucas is earning his protection in his cell; counting pushups and chatting about his cellie’s wife, who is probably going to lose his wife. He thinks his cellie is innocent, but that’s not what dude wants everyone thinking in jail. He went down for someone bigger and now he’s just riding it out.  This conversation is being recorded and listened to, so I’m guessing Lucas is working some kind of a jailhouse informant angle and he’s not omniscient, just guided.

Frank is still pouting on the campaign trail, oooh watching Governor Will Conway (JOEL KINNAMAN WOO HOO!!!) take the game by 20 points, disguy is the presumed Republican candidate.  Claire’s clothes were shipped with Frank’s, so he’s mad about that too. He calls Meechum (Nathan Darrow) in to deal with it, then asks him what Claire said when she left that morning. Nothing, but she was staring at a picture of the mandala Frank made her.

He asks Meechum to sit and keep him company for a bit, woot woo hoo throwdown time?? But no, Frank just wants someone to watch him read briefs, not take OFF his briefs. Sad panda.

Lisbeth  finally comes to see Claire, in the middle of the night, in the dark, but she doesn’t say anything, so Claire silently follows her back to Lisbeth’s wing of the house, ducking when her mom might have seen her. Her mom killed a gecko just like that, what?

Frank’s dozing on the bed, imagining he sees Claire sitting then in her pajamas. He beats the shit out of imaginary her, it’s been a tough few years for the Underwood marriage. Long gone are the days of a shared purpose and cigarettes in the window of their gorgeous flat; now it’s open warfare and His and Hers goals. And beating people to death in your fantasies.

Meachum wakes him up by taking his glasses off, aww, even that sexual energy is gone. Bummer.

Leann (Neve Campbell) is in to see Claire, she’s made Democrats relevant in a very red state and Claire needs her expertise. Not for the primary, but for Claire in the 30th. She wants to be Congresswoman, but Doris Jones (Cicely Tyson) sitting would obviously back her daughter Celia, who is also running.  Claire’s play is to take the seat only for 2 to 4 years then hop into the Senate and from there? Who knows. But Leann sees more problems than the randomness of the approach, and the unlikelihood of Congresswoman Jones giving up her seat to someone not her daughter, there’s the whole White Patrician Outsider thing. Claire knows all about Leann’s firm, though, she started against the odds, so how about she start coming up with some solutions, instead of ways it won’t work?

It took Frank about 3 seconds to figure out what Claire’s up to, so he sends Stampy in to do some congress-blocking. It’s late at night at Leann’s office, so she meets him with a gun (being Texas), no scared damsel she. Is that how they say hi in Texas, asks Stamps?

She explains that she’s not entirely on board yet, it will depend on the meeting with Doris Jones the following day; he stops her mid-sentence to make a call. He hands her the phone, the President wants to talk to her.

Now here’s where Frank makes a big mistake. He leans on Leann (I keep wanting to call her Sydney!), HARD, she will walk away and make no mention of this again to the First Lady. I have a feeling he just made Claire a much more interesting client to Democrat-in-Texas Leann. I bet she doesn’t like to be told what to do.

Lucas is indeed working with the Department of Justice, so once the arrest is made, he’ll be released into the Witness Protection Plan. He’s worried about the President finding him, though, not just the Armenians. Imagine when you have to sort through your enemies to see who the bigger immediate threat is.

Oh ho, Seth is meeting with Cynthia of TeamDunbar in a sketchy dive with bad, bad music, she’s offering  him Chief of Staff if he gives her one solid thing they can use. So: what’s happening in Texas?

The First Lady and her entourage arrive at the office of Doris Jones and her daughter Celia (LisaGay Hamilton). Stampy has already poisoned the well, though and Leann has been scared off (for now), so it goes really well right until Claire gets right to HER point. She doesn’t want to wait for 4 years, she’d like Doris’s seat right now, fanks. Celia can have it after her. That goes over it about as well as you would expect.

There are shots lobbied from each side, the President fully supports her taking that seat now (side-eye to Stamps), so perhaps we need to reevaluate this strategy to finally Claire’s pitch; I’ll give you a breast cancer clinic run by Planned Parenthood for this seat.  Doris Jones does NOT accept. Her daughter has been waiting ten years for this seat, she will not give it to a white woman from Highland Park, stepping stone to the Governor’s office or no.

Can we mention Hillary Clinton at this point yet? Bit later? Okay.

TeamDunbar is running with Seth’s Marital Discord story, I just have to say this one thing: WHO THE FCUK CARES IF POLITICIANS ARE GETTING ALONG WITH THEIR SPOUSES?? If you DO care, STOPPIT!! It doesn’t MATTER! Neither does their sexual orientation, for the love of Bob.

Seth, Stampy and Francis are trying to figure out where the leak is and how they can plug it, but more importantly, how to wrangle Claire back into the fold. Stampy has an idea, but first, “hop off, Seth” the big boys need to talk. I guess Seth feels as though he was promised more than he got, but he’s always been a weaselly bastage.

Stampy’s plan: Claire’s mother

Claire and her mother’s détente has ended; her mother wants to know why she didn’t say hello. TWO DAYS AGO. She knows Leeanne Harvey, though, always fundraising for a candidate. Is Claire that candidate? More mother-daughter bullshite later, it ends in a draw. Ice against petrifaction.

Seth is holding a press conference; everyone wants to know about the rumours of marital discord. PFFT

Frank’s made it to Texas, ducking Claire and coming in to speak to her mother directly. Their conversation is a thing of beauty, allegations of trailer trash and white trash but my favourite is “not even being President could give you any class.” That is in-laws, in a nutshell.

Leann is refusing to be in the middle of a Mom and Dad fight, but Claire sells it like zo: Be My Huma Abedin

Leann and Claire arrive home to find Frank and Stampy, they’ve found out about her mum. You know, what Claire doesn’t know, that her mom has been fighting cancer for 3 years. Frank twists her arm; she has to say this is why she’s been apart from the POTUS the last two weeks. Claire does her speech while Frank rubs her back. You can actually SEE Claire’s skin crawl and how hard a pill that is to swallow as she’s speaking.

Lucas is oot of jail! And in a dive apartment all his own, awww. He’s John Carlyle and has a new job as a car rental detailer. That’s right, a 40 year old car wash attendant and that will not draw any attention, uh huh. But he’s out of jail and no longer providing spank material for inmates! I’m just waiting for the gunshots.

The primaries aren’t looking good for Frank, but he seems mostly concerned by Governor Conway (JOEL KINNAMAN, HAVE I MENTIONED THAT?? Holder Smolder, y’all!) who’s cleaning up like crazy.

Claire forces her way into Lisbeth’s room, to find her bald mama putting on a wig. She cries, Lisbeth wants to know if it’s for her or Claire herself? Taking Claire in her arms, she hisses “you’re stronger than he is, but you got to put him in his place.” And we’re oot.

Huh. Well. I don’t mind telling you, I was over this Claire-Leaving-Again storyline last season, but I do like how they’re developing her in her own way. The only problem being, of course, that you can’t win on a team with more than one focus or when you attack from more than one side. Frank lost Claire when he didn’t follow through on his promises early on; it told her that he was only looking out for himself. I don’t know if it’s un-feminist to suggest that Claire wait until Frank gets elected, but they are all over the damn place.  I miss them smoking in front of the window. Cheers, until next time!